We need energy to fight the cold of winter. We need vats of veg stinking out the kitchen every night. We need soil, shovel loads of it lining the kitchen floor. The more smell and soil there is the better. As my grandad never said, “If it`s not grubby, it isn`t good for you.”
The grubby rule has a snow-white exception: the daikon, (Japanese radish). Mild in both flavour and smell, daikon is a good foil for more potent vegetables like burdock, carrots and leeks. Square, milk-coloured chunks of daikon make great fillers for winter broths.
Note from angry editor: Since when has this become a cooking blog? And since when have you been a cook? Just who do you think you are? Your dinner last night was melon-pan! (Melon-pan is a sweetbread favoured by schoolkids and crap cooks)
The daikon radish is the theme of a famous haiku I learnt one winter morning in a Tokyo staffroom. Written by Kobayashi Issa, a 19th century Nagano-raised poet, the haiku is about when he was lost in the mountains, trying to get to Nagano`s Zenkoji temple.
大根引 大根で道を 教へけり
Winter harvesting / Given directions with a / pulled-out daikon
Just one more paragraph and I am hanging up by ladle.
This winter`s extreme cold, with over a metre of snow in Aomori, helps produce tasty daikon. The daikon, are cut up and hung outside. (See here and here) – this technique of sarasare – exposure to the cold wind and freezing temperatures – breaks down the daikon`s density and it can absorb flavour better. Hopefully it might even salvage some flavour from my notoriously bland soups.